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What is click fraud?

For most companies, digital marketing, particularly pay-per-click, has become the go-to form of advertising. Everyone, from small enterprises to global firms, may benefit from internet exposure to a wide market.

So, If you’re using AdWords or AdSense you must have heard about an emerging practice in the underworld of computing called “click fraud”. But what exactly is click fraud and how is it accomplished?

The act of clicking on a paid link with a malicious or vengeful purpose, such as a display ad or sponsored search result, is known as click fraud.

AdSense uses a payment mechanism that awards a certain amount of money to a publisher (someone who holds an AdSense banner on their page) every time a person clicks on the said banner. So click fraud is the attempt to have people click the ads just so that they can earn a greater income.

People are creating websites only for the aim of making cash through Google’s AdSense program. These users acquire an unbelievable amount of clicks using a variety of techniques, some of which are intricate and sophisticated, and others that are basic and easy.

One of the most complex is through the use of so-called “hitbots”. These are automated programs that emulate clicking the links in AdSense banners (there are some that actually click the banners as well).

Google’s AdSense protection scheme is by no means perfect and nearly anyone can find the details of surmounting the protection mechanism, ironically just by doing a Google search.

Another, more rudimentary method is to hire a lot of people in a country to click the links on your site. This means these people will actually sit all day and just click links so you can earn a fortune.

Apparently, there is a flaw in this method. When Google receives a big number of clicks from a single address, that address and the site that included the AdSense banner will be blocked, and the fraudster may be sued.

To prevent this from happening, many people use a large number of proxy servers for the purpose of clicking. These are basically trojans, located on computers throughout the world (though mostly in the US). What’s even more daunting is that these clicks will appear to originate from an actual computer, so such scams are really hard to detect.

And don’t assume this just happens once in a while. In this area, there is a lot of criminal activities.

There’s so much, in fact, that if search engine providers don’t boost up their security with programs like AdSense, illicit activity might become much more dangerous.

Google has a strong policy against click fraud, and it has already sued people who have used such tactics. While the search engine titan is doing everything it can to reduce the danger of click fraud, there’s still a lot of space for improvement.

It is estimated that more than 20% of the clicks that follow an AdSense link are just done in order to get money from the person paying for the ad. Some people believe the number of fraudulent clicks to be even twice as large.

There are a great deal more schemes involving click fraud, such as groups of AdSense publishers clicking each other’s links (which is referred to as “clicking rings”, or spamming people so that they click such links.

Despite Google’s efforts to keep click fraud under control, the situation is causing concern within AdWords advertisers. Despite this, advertising through Google’s AdSense is still more profitable for marketers than traditional untargeted advertising strategies.

There are some means of protection against such schemes and all advertisers should be savvy enough to employ them. Many advertisers choose to avoid the content network all together for fear of click fraud.

What can you actualy do to protect yourself against click fraud?

Once you’ve understood the idea of click fraud and realized that it may damage any advertiser, you have two alternatives. The first step is to analyze your traffic on a regular basis using server logs and Google analytics. The second option is to choose a different method that will safeguard you while also giving you greater control. The latter is our preference.

There are a few methods to manually check your traffic and analyze where it originates from. To begin, contact your site host and request your web logs. How you get them will depend on the webserver you use and how you put it up.

Then you’ll have to spot the suspicious activity, like seeing a number of visits from the same IP address, then block it.



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